The Liberty Bell, some 12 feet in circumference and possessing a 44-pound clapper, was cast in Londons Whitechapel and was inscribed with words from Leviticus: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof". It was shipped across the Atlantic to the Pennsylvania State House and became a symbol for freedom. To celebrate its appearance at the Chicago World Fair of 1893, John Philip Sousa composed what was to become one of his most popular marches, The Liberty Bell.
Sousas tuneful tribute has in recent decades been immortalised as the theme tune for the BBC comedy programme Monty Pythons Flying Circus. It is usually heard in various wind/brass band arrangements but the starting point of this fresh orchestration for standard symphony orchestra was the original piano version of 1893. The original binary form of the march might seem to unsatisfactory in the concert hall: the Monty Python theme would only be heard at the beginning, never to return. In this arrangement the initial theme is brought back at the end to create a ternary structure.
If you wish to play the Pythonesque ending, recalling Terry Gilliams animation of a large foot squashing all and sundry and bringing the music to an abrupt and somewhat comical end, use the penultimate bar and omit the final bar. For a non-comical ending omit the penultimate bar and play the final bar. If you are feeling really "off the wall" a third, quirky, alternative is to play both!
Duration: 3½ minutes
Piccolo, Flute, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons
4 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb, 3 Trombones, Tuba
Percussion (Triangle, Cymbals, Snare drum, Bass drum, Tubular bells), Harp (optional)
Strings (Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass)